Monthly Archives: March 2012

Guest Post: Grandma and Ma Rolled into One

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A guest post by writer Ann Jacobus:

At the supermarket the other day, I read about Teen Moms and their latest trials in a tabloid. As I was missing my glasses, I could only decipher the headlines. A teen mom, I marveled as I yawned. Imagine having all that energy. But being a parent as a high school kid? Crikes.

Then I had to wonder, is it better to be a parent as a kid, or as a geezer?

It doesn’t matter. You have to be a parent whenever you’re a parent. And for some of my friends and family, again when your kids are teen moms.  By contrast, I had our youngest son when I was in my late thirties.  I’m really a mom and a grandma rolled into one.

I’m in good company, though. Many of the parents at my son’s middle school are my age or older, and their thirteen year-old is their eldest! For heaven’s sake, I also have some twenty-somethings. I’m an old hand at this. So to speak.

Some of these parents by the miracles of modern medicine are still having babies. Good luck with that, I say. Getting up in the middle of the night with an infant? I wouldn’t even be able to hear them.

Maybe these parents just look older.

Age has its advantages.  I’m more relaxed than I was with our older children. The youngest’s room is even messier than his siblings’ rooms were, which is saying a lot, and finally, I don’t care. No yelling, no grounding, certainly no cleaning. I just close the door and let the rodents fend for themselves.

Our son eats Skittles and store bought chocolate chip cookies before our frozen TV dinners, and I don’t blink.  Maybe I pour him a glass of Fanta. Maybe I join him! Then dinner conversation revolves around bad backs, Caribbean cruises, colonoscopies, and our son’s soccer schedule.  I’ve been a soccer mom for two flipping decades. Sure I’m relaxed. It’s called exhaustion.

Fortunately, our last child is a responsible kid. I guess someone has to be. Which may have everything or nothing to do with our laissez-faire parenting.  He does his homework by himself, because I decided the moment he was born to never help him, after being humiliated with his siblings over their math workbooks. I do occasionally bring him a cup of hot cocoa and some prunes.

We like all our kids, but we’re enjoying this last child in a special way. The truth is, as tired and scattered as I felt sometimes with our older kids, as much as I looked forward to the time they would strike out on their own, and when I would have more time for myself, I miss them a lot.

 We’ve forestalled empty-nestedness! We still have someone else to talk to! His activities get us out. Best of all, he can read small print for me when I can’t find my glasses.

Ann Jacobus lives in San Francisco with her family, where she writes YA and middle grade fiction, blogs regularly at www.ReaderkidZ.com, and listens to 80’s music on her Walkman. Learn more about Ann at her website, www.annjacobus.com

Photo Above is Ann’s youngest at age seven, proud of a second lost tooth.  Photo Below is Ann.

 Photo credit:  Sonya Sones

The Messy Paintbox and the Second Blooming

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Remember the disappointment when your paintbox got messy?  The brush and the water mixed up the colors.

Remember the sadness when the seat of your swimsuit wasn’t smooth any more?  The side of the pool picked at the fabric.

Remember the shock when your shiny bike rusted?   The rain and the air played nasty weather games.

Remember the year  you realized you were getting old?  Father Time finally said,” Gotcha!”

Were you thirty-five?  Forty?  Forty-five?  Fifty?  Later?

Lovely watercolors from the messy paints.

Gorgeous strokes despite the picks in the suit.

Miles of happy pedaling on the rusty bike.

Dame Agatha Christie wrote, “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes… at the age of fifty, say… a whole new life has opened before you.”

Enjoy the second blooming.  Some jolly times ahead!


Those Intent Teddy Bear Eyes

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I took this photo because last year, I decided to start a teddy bear blog.  It’s still in my plans, but in the meantime, I have a picture of  three handsome bears.

Theodore is the yellow bear on the left.  He went to Duke with my mom in the forties.

Sadly, the other bears, who are younger, don’t have names yet.  The girl bear is wearing a vintage Shirley Temple dress, but somehow “Shirley” isn’t hitting me  for her name.  I’ll keep pondering.  Send your suggestions!

Anyway, I thought you might like to see the picture. In order to post it on Friend for the Ride, I needed to figure out a what teddy bears might teach us about menopause or midlife.  The two bear boys shouted, “Absolutely not!” to menopause talk, so I stuck to the subject of midlife.

In thinking of the true character of teddy bears, what strikes me most is their determined, intent expressions.  They know their minds.  They are happy with who they are.  Wishy-washy is not in their bear vocabulary.  Even Pooh, a somewhat bumbling bear at times, is, all in all, content with his life–his friends, his love for honey, his poetry, his world in the Hundred Acre Wood.

I’ve decided the eyes on my teddy bears are saying,  “This is the honeypot.  Don’t wait for a new one to swarm into your world and sweeten everything up a notch.  Live life now, lady.  We mean it!”

What about you?  Go get your teddy bear right now.

(Pause while you get your bear.)

Now look into those expressive eyes.  What are they telling you?

Below are the original Pooh animals.  They live in the New York Public Library.  Standing in front of the showcase and seeing these beloved characters was one of the most exciting moments in the life of this writer of children’s books.  I’m positive.  As positive as the eyes on a teddy bear.

And here are the eyes of Alan Alexander Milne, the brilliant mind behind Winnie the Pooh.  I found the picture on Goodreadsa way cool literary site.

Menopause and Self-doubt

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Since first grade, I’ve loved to write.  I began with stories for my dolls, moved to a column in my high school paper, and then published books for kids and adults.

In 2006, I began studying for an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  I relished the work I did for this degree, from the critical essays to the picture books to the novel I completed as my final creative thesis.  I graduated on a cold January afternoon (Vermont knows cold!), warmed up and ready to take on the world with my newly honed skills.

Then WHAM!

I couldn’t write.  I didn’t write.  My mind spun with negative thoughts about my talent and my future as an author.  I hit a wall of self-doubt and discouragement.  For a year, I barely composed anything but emails and shopping lists.

Like the sky opening up after a morning of  gloom, my despondence lifted a year later.  Soon I was at the keyboard again, pounding away, working on a new novel.  That’s when I put it all together and figured out my year of self-doubt was brought on by the hormonal roller coaster of menopause.

I tell this story not for sympathy.  As I said, I’m now pounding the keys (not sure how great the words are, but I’m cranking them out).

I tell the story because  self-doubt is one of the symptoms of menopausal moodiness, and I wish I had known.  I don’t know how much that would have changed things, but knowledge, sometimes, can be a chunk of the menopausal battle.

So spread the word!

Photo:  Thanks go to Facebook  for the upbeat graphic.

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